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How to live in a post-apocalyptic world: Apocalyptic theory and cultural studies
White, Siobhan Theresa
Nericcio, WilliamThomas, JosephOrr, Michelle
ix, 92 p. : ill.
This project began out of curiosity about why our culture is so obsessed with apocalyptic predictions. Through the course of the project, the obsession is explored, leading to the conclusion that we are currently living in a post-apocalyptic world, that we have managed to exist with a cultural repression of the memory of the apocalyptic events of World War II, and that we seem to be surviving, though not without psychological trauma. The exploration here will begin in the foundation for all apocalyptic imagery, the Bible. It will look at how the word was defined in the Christian milieu and how that definition was disseminated throughout Western culture with the spread of Christianity. Then, we will move to more recent examples to look at how the postmodern and post-human theories are represented in Western theatre, specifically in the work Samuel Beckett and Marie Clements. Next, the specifically American obsession with nuclear and atomic weaponry will reveal how this apocalyptic tenor of Western culture was invented and perpetuated by the United States' role in inventing the atomic bomb during World War II. From there, the exploration will focus on the America West, specifically California, by looking at the fiction of Thomas Pynchon and Nathanael West as representations of the disintegration of culture in face of the repressed trauma of the apocalypse. Finally, continuing the idea of the American West as particularly apocalyptic, an analysis of the roles Hollywood and the Golden Gate bridge play in representing the trauma and repression of the post-apocalyptic will reveal the fragmentation and disenfranchisement that plagues our cultural psyche. The culmination of the project finds more questions to be answered and more symptoms to be diagnosed, but irrevocably reveals that our culture lives in repression, with trauma, with endless anxiety and despair. The project attempt to allay some of the fears of impending apocalypse by suggesting that the catastrophic event we fear is actually behind us and failing to recognize or account for this in our lives will result in a failure to truly understand the world we live in. This failure will only result in further fragmentation, anxiety, despair, and misunderstanding. The quote from T.S. Eliot in the epigraph illustrates the result of this failure: an endless repetition of apocalypses until exhaustion and despair consumes us all. Once we recognize that we are only living in the most recent apocalypse and there is sure to be another, some of the fear and anxiety will be relieved
Includes bibliographical references (p. 84-86).
Liberal Arts and Sciences
Arts and Letters
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2012
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